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MSNBC had an article that caught my eye outlining six resume mistakes to avoid.

Four of the six items were noteworthy::

  • Focusing on responsibilities, not accomplishments
  • Including information on too many jobs
  • Being generic (which includes having an ‘Objective' section)
  • Poor proofreading

I haven't sent out a resume in years, but I thought I'd pull up my latest version to see where I stand on each of these.

  • I was very pleased to see that my resume focused on accomplishments.  It's important to show how your work led to tangible results, whether it be through cost savings, an implementation of something that wasn't there before, or something else that was tied directly back to you.  Bottom line: Prospective employers don't want to know what you were responsible for, they want to know what you did!
  • Back in college, there was a group of us that were lucky enough to get mentored on resume building skills.  One of the things he drove home was that your resume should be less and less detailed the further back it goes.  Every time I add a job to my resume, I go back and remove unnecessary details from older jobs.  The fact that I was team lead on a help desk in 1997 was great for the job I got in 1998, but does anything more need to be written about it here in 2011?  Nope.
  • The mentor I wrote about above told us to include an objective but advised us to re-write it every time we send out a resume, so that it's tailored to the job you want.  Last time I used my resume for job hunting, I eliminated the Objective section altogether out of the resume, and instead used my cover letter (you do send a customized cover letter with every resume, right?) to bring out the details of why I wanted that job.
  • It should go without saying that you need to make sure every word is spelled correctly and every sentence and piece of formatting is perfect.  Yet, it doesn't happen.  Is my current resume 100% free of errors?  Well, I'm not going to spend the time going word for word with it now, since I'm not sending it out at the moment.  But, if I do send it out, you bet I'll be proofreading it.